Rationale, aims and objectives: Intermediate care (IC) describes a range of services targeted at older people, aimed at preventing unnecessary hospitalisation, promoting faster recovery and maximising independence. The introduction of IC has created a new interface between primary and secondary care. Older people are known to be at an increased risk of medication-related problems when transferring between healthcare settings and pharmacists are often not included as part of IC multidisciplinary teams. This study aimed to explore community pharmacists’ (CPs) awareness of IC services and to investigate their views of and attitudes towards the medicines management aspects of such services, including the transfer of medication information.
Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted, recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a constant comparative approach with CPs practising in the vicinity of IC facilities in Northern Ireland, UK.
Results: Interviews were conducted with 16 CPs. Three themes were identified and named ‘left out of the loop’, ‘chasing things up’ and ‘closing the loop’. CPs felt that they were often ‘left out of the loop’ with regards to both their involvement with local IC services and communication across the healthcare interfaces. As a result, CPs resorted to ‘chasing things up’ as they had to proactively try to obtain information relating to patients’ medications. CPs viewed themselves as ideally placed to facilitate medicines management across the healthcare interfaces (i.e., ‘closing the loop’), but several barriers to potential services were identified.
Conclusion: CPs have limited involvement with IC services. There is a need for improvement of effective communication of patients’ medication information between secondary care, IC and community pharmacy. Increasing CP involvement may contribute to improving continuity of care across such healthcare interfaces, thereby increasing the person-centeredness of service provision.